Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Book and Article Review Day?

While getting caught up on my gene-blog reading today, I started to think about all of the carnival-type postings and events that many sites have through the weeks, months, etc. I'd like to start some kind of weekly event of our own here and was thinking of having a book/article review day. It would give me a chance to keep up to date on my reading, and also give me a chance to highlight articles or books that should be added to everyone's reading list and/or personal library. It would also be great for you all to suggest reading material to be reviewed.

Is this something that would appeal to you? Is there something else that you would like to see here? I'd love to hear what you all think!

NEHGS newsletter for the week

Hi all, I received my NEHGS e-newsletter for the week today and there are a couple of highlights. First, they have added a database for early Maine wills and York Co, Maine deeds. It is a database based on the CD that NEHGS released in 2006. For those doing 17th and early 18th century Maine research, this CD/database would be of great use. I've only been able to confirm my Maine lineages to the late 1700s so as of right now, this isn't of great use to me. I think one of the two branches that lived in Maine might stretch this far though so I'm thinking I might play around with the database since I'm an NEHGS member. If anyone has the CD or has spent some time searching the database already, let me know. I'd love to hear about any success stories.

The second highlight of this week's newsletter is the note about the NEHGS Sales Department, which apparently has "library-quality copies" of more than 10,000 out of print books. I wasn't aware of that so for for those of you looking around for some of those all-important local reference works, you might want to check out the inventory online, if you are an NEHGS member. If not, you can contact the Sales Department at

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Welcome Home Lillian Bromagen Stevens

I had made contact with a new-found cousin a few months ago through a tree I have on He had mentioned the existence of some photos he inherited from another family cousin and I asked if he wouldn't mind scanning a few for me to add to the collection I've been accumulating. Over the weekend he sent them and they were the most wonderful surprise I could have imagined. Included in the photo set was a photo of Lillian Bromagen Stevens taken around late 1908-early 1909. Nothing extraordinary in that, except for the fact that she was thought to have been long dead. Her only child, my Great Grandfather, claimed that he never knew his mother so we all figured that she had died when he was extremely young or even during childbirth (which we knew was premature). And yet there she was in this picture, holding my Great Grandfather's first-born child who was born in 1908. I had long suspected that something was going on regarding Papa's claim, the settling of Lillian's mother's widow's pension claim for one was a tip off that something wasn't right, but didn't have any proof. Til now. It's another mystery to try to solve, but more importantly I feel like she's made her way home. We can finally put a face to the name and place her with the photos of the rest of her family. And we as a family can recognize her, and that is so important. Being able to find the names of those who have come before us is one thing. It's exhilarating to make that connection for sure. But when you can actually see the face of that person you've been researching for months and months, or even years on end, there is something more. I don't know what happened to her, I don't know what her mystery is, but I'm glad I can see her face and be able to say that she's my Great Great Grandmother. Welcome home, Lillian.

Finding tax lists=Frustration

I've ranted before about some of the problems of long-distance genealogy. You know, when your family history takes you everywhere but the state you're currently living in. When that happens, you have to rely on published resources, the internet, FHL microfilms, kindly librarians, volunteers, and employees, the luck of the Irish (LOL), and if all else fails, paid researchers. I've had a fair amount of luck doing basic record retrieval using all of the above, however once you venture out of the realm of the ordinary (ie. your basic birth, marriage, and death info) things start to get a bit more tricky. It becomes harder and harder to gain access to what you need. There are some locations with wonderful historical and genealogical societies with hard-working members who spend countless hours to transcribe, abstract, and index all kinds of useful genealogical information. Yes, while you shouldn't necessarily rely upon the work of others since human error is always a possibility, these local reference works are a goldmine because at the very least they will give you the location of the records that you need so that you can order copies without having to pay someone for the retrieval. Without the location, for instance which Will Book or Grantee index number, the court employees won't give you the time of day over the telephone. I've found quite a few published references for various New Hampshire counties especially helpful. Even with these great resources available though, tax lists still seem to be falling through the cracks. It's really frustrating to me because tax lists can be one of the best resources for locating individuals and figuring their ages and relationships prior to 1850 when only the head of the household is listed on census schedules. Somehow, these records seem to get ignored by transcribers, often in favor of what they feel are more important vital records. I understand that feeling, however, what do you do when you get past the point of civil registration and you have to start piecing things together to build a case for a familial relationship? Those tax lists start looking awfully attractive at that point. Just a bit of a rant and piece of mind for today. Rant Off.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Taking Clients

Besides attending the conference in Raleigh, I've also been busy with my NGSQ article study group and preparing my practical assignment for ProGen 3. But I've also picked up a little pro bono client work. I don't often get the opportunity to work for someone else but I think it's an important step in preparing for certification. While working on your own family has its rewards, working for a client brings valuable experience, especially because it often brings the opportunity to work on records or to resolve situations that you wouldn't otherwise be exposed to if just focusing on your own family history. For instance, if your family was part of the British migration to say, Massachusetts, chances are good that you will not have an occasion work with Freedman's records, or slave schedules. Another example would be my own situation at present. A good number of branches that I've spent some time working on were urban families which means my chances to get acquainted with land platting have been limited. These are important sources for all genealogists to be familiar with so client work is one way to get that exposure. While it's important to be knowledgable about the environment and the records produced for your family history, it is also important to seek out challenges outside of your comfort zone in order to grow. A big part of seeking certification is a commitment to continual expansion of your knowledge base so get out there and start finding some clients. Get your friends to get you started, meet people at the library, do what you have to do to get that experience. Good Luck!!

Some great information on Tennessee and Kentucky Records coming soon

Hey all, I've been trying to get caught up after the conference and organize all of the information I got so that I can share some of it here on the blog. A good deal of useful info came from a set of lectures given by J. Mark Lowe, CG on Tennessee and Kentucky records. Not only did he give a bit of info on the records themselves for the two states, he also spent a great deal of time discussing the settlement and migration within the them which is extremely helpful to the family historian when looking at where folks may have settled. One of the resources he highlighted was a series of maps, held by the University of Virginia Library, which showed the density of the population for Tennessee, by decade, through the 19th century. This resource is supposed to be available online so as soon as I get a chance to find it I'll post the link. One of the most important factoids to remember though, according to the lectures, is that the history of TN and KY are intertwined together so it's not uncommon for you to have to consult references and/or search repositories of both states when searching for a family. More on this to come!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Update on Delaware County, PA tax lists

I received a response to a query about the Delaware County tax lists a week or so ago but I've been so backlogged lately with work that I haven't had a chance to update the info here yet. It appears that the first information I received from a reference librarian at Neumann College, which stated the tax dockets had been sent to the Delaware County Historical Society, was incorrect. A different employee at the Neumann College Library says that they were moved to the Delaware County Archives not the Historical Society. So now I will attempt to confirm this with the Archives and post yet another update here as soon as I hear something back.

Back from the conference with a ton to share...First things first

Ok, so I'm back from the NGS conference in Raleigh and have a ton of info to get on the site. First off though, I have a new site for you all to check out. It's full of great old maps that you can view for free online. Maps are known to be of vital importance to genealogists not just so that you know the location of the area your subject was living in, but also because they can show you information that will help guide you on to the next steps of your research. Maps showing the trails and wagon roads, rivers, watersheds, mountains, and any number of topographical and statistical information can all be found on maps. A site that includes maps covering all of these aspects for numerous states and countries is . Just go to the site, choose how you would like to view the maps on your browser and start checking out all of the wonderful maps.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Heading out to the NGS conference

Things have been busy this week primarily because the NGS conference in Raleigh started today. I'm heading down early tomorrow morning to catch the first lecture at 11am. I'll be sure to come back with full reports for the blog!

Friday, May 8, 2009

Sometimes I just want to give the mailman a hug!

hehe, that's a funny title. Anyhoo, today is officially "Day of Records". First, I received the will and inventory of Elias Bromagen from Greene County, OH today, and it's a great one. Pretty close to the ideal record. The only thing better is if he would have just randomly decided to tell us about his birth and parents. Not only does he list his sons, and give them each large tracts of land which is all described for later land platting, he also lists his daughters. That is not something commonly seen. Even those daughters with whom he had already settled his affairs were mentioned. Then, to top it off, he named his son Simon as his eldest and then had to amend his will at a later date because he said that Simon, whom he had appointed his executor, had died. So that narrows down the death range for Simon too. The inventory was pretty interesting also, pretty common stuff but reading about his "beloved" cows and his flock of geese was fun to read.

Moving on to the McKeevers, Pennsylvania is one of those states that requires you to make a copy of your driver's license to confirm your current address when you order copies of death records. Here's another instance where being a military family, with a driver's license that almost never matches where you're currently living, is not conducive to long-distance genealogy. So, I had to have a relative order the records for me and I got the great news today. The death record for my Great Great Great Grandmother's brother had the name of their mother, her full name including her maiden name, which I did not previously have. A search of newspaper entries a while back had given her first name as Elizabeth but now we know her name as Elizabeth Saunders. The informant for the info on the death record was a McKeever cousin who would have known this so I find it to be pretty reliable information. So now I have a new name to start going after which is always fun.

So it was a great day for records! I love days like this, whenever records come it's always a good day. Now I need to update my own records!

Happy Hunting Friday to everyone!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Cataloging and Keeping a Wish List

So I've just started working with the Professional Genealogy study group and we are now working on our third practical assignment. This month our assignment is to catalog our home library and start a list of resources that you would like to add to your library in the future. One of the more discouraging aspects of genealogy is that you are often not living in the locale of your ancestors making it difficult to access records vital to your ability to conduct an "exhaustive" search for information. The increasing availability of records through digitizing projects, often undertaken by local genealogy groups/historical societies, etc., helps to ease this frustration a bit but there is still a long way to go. Another way to deal with the location issue is to keep a home library with references for the locations you are working with. Oftentimes you'll find that there have been published guide book and even editions of vital records for a county and these are a great help to the long-distance genealogist. Published histories shouldn't necessarily be used as primary sources, they are not a replacement for original documents, but they can be a great way to find what you need. If you see something in a published work, with a source citation, you can order a copy of the record yourself.

So now I bet you're wondering how you find out about these published sources. I've found the best way is to scour the Library of Congress catalog at . This should not be thought of as a complete list, but it is definitely a great start. Another place to look is . Between these two sites you should be able to gather a pretty great wish list. Mine is about 4 notebook pages long! LOL!

Library of Virginia Microfilm Updates

I just received my new Virginia Genealogical Society Newsletter and there was a section about how the Library is expanding their microfilmed city and county records collection. Apparently it has been a long-term project that began in alphabetical order and their latest additions include films for Rockingham Co, Russell Co, Scott Co, and Smyth Co. These films are available at the library as well as through their interlibrary loan program. You can view their full microfilm collection at and you can learn more about the Library's interlibrary loan program by going to .

Thanks to the Virginia Genealogical Society for this great update! I'm planning a research trip to the LVA this weekend so I'll definitely be checking out some of those reels.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Heard back from Greene County, Ohio Archives already!

Just a followup on the Greene Co Archives. I heard back from the day before yesterday on the will of Elias Bromegin that I requested. The reply email was not only a confirmation that he left a will, but the location (Will Book location etc), the existence of an inventory, and all at a cost of $1.00! Woohoo! Gotta love that. I got the check out in the mail yesterday so hopefully I'll have the papers either late next week or early the week after. I think I'll scan it and post it here once it arrives since this will be my first Ohio will and inventory. Very exciting stuff!